I Must Be Nuts
We've never been lavish spenders; it's just a lifestyle we adopted when I became a stay at home Mom. We realized that we would have to change our way of thinking and our way of life if we were going to survive on one income.
For instance, we bought living room and bedroom furniture when we were first married, and 15 years later, we are still using it. Yes, it's ugly. It's ugly in the way that only teal green can be. But there's nothing wrong with it. So it graces my living room in all it's 1992 splendor. My sister in law has had three or four living room suites and several bedroom suites in that time. It boggles my mind.
Also, We drive used cars and we drive them into the ground. We carry only one car payment at a time. My van is almost paid off, which is good, because Husband's 15 year old Jeep Cherokee has now passed the 200,000 mile mark, and is ready to gasp it's last. He desperately needs a replacement vehicle, but we won't be buying new. We never do. We love Carmax and Carmax loves us.
We are lucky though. Even on one income, we do enjoy some extras. We have cable and high speed internet. We have a lawn service. (both Husband and I LOATHE yard work). We eat out when we please. Our boys both participate in extracurricular sports activities. I don't have to count every penny at the grocery store. But we make concessions to be able to afford those little luxuries.
Sadly, now that the economy has deteriorated, the luxuries are getting harder and harder to afford, even with our concessions. One by one, the little indulgences we afford ourselves are being eliminated.
I'm trying to cut corners, but it's really hard with two growing boys. Shoes and clothing lasts Pubescent One no more than a couple of months. And what's really disheartening is that because they are built differently (Pubescent One is long and lean, and Diminutive one is short and stocky) Diminutive One cannot wear his castoffs. THAT hurts.
Then there are braces ($116/mo.) which will soon double, as Diminutive One needs them as well, meds ($180/mo just in copays), and FOOD, which disappears in the blink of an eye around here. People told me about adolescent boys and food, but I didn't believe it until I experienced it myself. They are NEVER full. EVER. They can decimate a week's supply of snacks in just a couple of days. Seriously, I have to hide stuff and then dole it out in true skinflint fashion if I want it to last.
In short, my children are a yawning chasm of need, into which coutnless dollars are funnelled only to disappear into a sucking black vortex, never to been seen again.
I'm considering going back to work, but because Diminutive One has to be picked up from school at 2:30 (no bus service this year due to redistricting) it's going to be difficult to find something flexible enough to suit my needs. I'm really hoping to hold out until next year, when Pubescent One will be in Middle School. That will make everything easier.
But for now, I'm looking for ways to streamline our budget even further. I switched from my beloved Vanilla Lavender Tide to powdered laundry detergent. And I switched from Electrosol tablets to powdered dishwasher soap. But you know, even the powdered stuff is ridiculously expensive. A 95 load box of Tide costs $22! (I don't do cheap laundry soap, because it's definitely a case of getting what you pay for. It isn't cost effective if you have to wash everything twice)
Ree. Dick. U. Lous.
I started making my own cleaning solution a while back. Basically, Windex and the like are nothing more than Ammonia and water. You can buy a 2 qt bottle of Ammonia for 89 cents at the grocery store, so how does that translate into $3.49 for a 1 qt bottle of cleaner that is mostly water?
So I buy the lemon scented ammonia, invested in a couple of squirt bottles; one for upstairs and one for down, and made my own cleaner. It's cheap and effective. You can do this with white Vinegar as well. I think I might try adding some to my ammonia mixture, because I've heard it helps with streaking. As far as I know, mixing the two compounds does not result in a deadly cloud of gas, but I should probably find out for certain just to make sure.
I was watching "17 Kids And Counting" the other day and was inspired. Now, in general, I think those people are dyed in the wool kooks. But girlfriend can pinch a penny like nobody's business.
Turns out, they make their own laundry soap. And since they do something lke 80 loads of laundry a month, it came out to fractions of a penny a load. I can get behind that.
I think I'm going to try it.
I don't do 80 loads of laundry a month. But with two boys, I do a lot. And if I can save a little money on laundry soap, so much the better.
Here's the recipe:
1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. K
Keep on low heat until soap is melted.
Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry.
Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).
Now, I don't really get the part about melting the bar soap. Because what happens to a bar of soap when it's submerged? It's dissolves, right? So it seems like a superfluous step to me. Couldn't you just mix it all up, let it "cure" so to speak...maybe a couple of days...and then stir it all up?
Maybe I'll just try to dry powder recipe:
One 4 1/2 oz. bar Fels Naptha or Ivory soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm and Hammer washing soda
Finely grate bar of soap into a lg. bowl (smallest grate on grater)
add borax and washing soda, mix thoroughly.
One batch fits into a Qt. canning Jar.
Use 1-2 Tablespoons per load of Laundry
Anybody have any experience with either of these methods?
Am I crazy?
I'm going to go through all this rigamarole of cooking soap only to end up with a gloopy, gloppy mess that doesn't clean squat. That's what usually comes of these type of ideas. Great in theory, in practice, not so much.
But what the hell. It's worth a try, right?